Saturday, November 17, 2012

This Is Thailand - That's What I Call Service!

Yesterday, after I had completed editing and post processing my photographs from last week's Royal barge Procession, I commenced to write my blog about the experience.  As I often do when writing my blog entries, I perform some Internet research to ensure that my perceptions are correct and to enhance the sharing experience by providing additional facts in the blog entry.

To make it easier on me, I often make a print copy of the information from the Internet especially when the article contains some of those long Thai spellings.  Well after only printing one page, my printer ran out of ink.  Well it did not run completely out of ink, it ran out of "Light Cyan" which is one of the SIX (6) ink cartridges required for my three year old Epson RX650 All-In-One Printer.

The problem with this and similar printers is that when cartridge is out of ink, the printer will not print.  Really, is Light Cyan all that important?  The other problem is that Epson seems to reinvent their cartridges every two years so today's cartridges are not retroactive.  We drove out to the big mall in the center of Udonthani to buy a full set of replacement cartridges.  We came close, but as they say "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades".  We found one store that had 5 of the cartridges but not the one I really needed.  We founded another store that had 4 cartridges but also was missing the one that I really needed.  They did offer to back order the cartridges and they would be available in a week.  The stores that had cartridges were selling them for 550 Baht (almost $20 USD each).  Foolishly I thought that we could easily find a full set or at least the color that I needed elsewhere.  Well the other 6 stores that we went to in the mall had no cartridges.

Undeterred I decided to stop at the IT Mall on our way home.  The IT Mall is several floors of space dedicated to computer and cell phone products.  The Mall supposedly opened up a month ago but it is still be built out.  The Mall provides stalls where small vendors can sell their services and products.  Many of the vendors that we saw were familiar names from when they used to be at the big mall in the center of town; before it greatly expanded and went upscale.

We must have looked at another 15 shops with no luck.  But we were not out of luck or unlucky.  At one stall which specialized in modifying printers to use external ink tanks that you filled with bulk ink, offered to check to see if she could get the Epson Cartridges.  She said that it would take 5 minutes and wrote down my wife's cell phone number.  We wandered around some more in search of the cartridges to no avail.  The woman called and said that she would keep trying.  We drove home and later in the evening the woman called saying that she had found the cartridges for 550 Baht each and did I want them?  Duang replied yes and the woman said that we could pick them up the next day in the morning.  A while later she called to confirm that I would really pay for the cartridges since 3,300 Baht (roughly $110 USD) was a substantial risk for her to take.  Once again Duang replied "Yes".  Well "This Is Thailand" and the saying "Good for you, good for me" is frequently the guide as to how business is conducted; the woman offered to deliver the cartridges to our home in the morning.  This was good for her but it was actually great for me.  The IT Mall is in a very congested part of the downtown area with a narrow spiral tower to access parking - challenges I am willing to take on but definitely prefer not to.

Sure enough the woman and her son who is her technician came to the house.  My printer has some small spots of fungus on the underside of the glass which I have been thinking about having taken care of however there are no phone directories to help find a repair service.  Her son looked at it and said that he could clean it.  I then asked about modifying the printer to use the external ink tanks.  He could do it for about the cost for another set of replacement cartridges.  The ink for the external bulk tanks are around 100 Baht ($3.00 USD) each color for 100 ml of versus the $20 USD each for 10 ml of Epson inks.  Since they need the old Epson cartridges for the modification, I will wait for the new cartridges to be used up.  Oh, when I am ready to have the printer cleaned and modified, Duang can call and they will pick it up and later deliver it to our home.  Now that is what I call service.!

This is one of the reasons that I enjoy living here in Thailand.  People want your money but they are willing to work for it.  Large companies such as Epson may create unacceptable business practices but there a plenty of people here who make use of these types  of business practices to create cheaper alternatives - "Good for me, Good for You"

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